Thursday, August 30, 2012

Developer Risks Future, Shares Plans with "The Community"

Despite Silver Spring's First Baptist Church building at the corner of Wayne and Fenton being ultra-historic*, it will ultimately be torn down and replaced with a new mixed-use development that will include 230 residential units and 30,000 sq ft of retail, along with a brand-new church.

The current plan was shared last night at a "pre-submittal community meeting" and reader J.T. was kind enough to share the photos he took of the latest renderings:

Conspicuously absent from the design is a skybridge spanning Fenton street and connecting to the future Silver Spring library. Clearly, this is a major oversight on the part of the developer. How are people expected to get to the other side of the street without one?

*The existing church was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a commission from Jesus himself. Plus, George Washington slept there. Twice.

Silver Spring (Old) News 'N Notes

Granted, a lot of this news is older than dirt, but I was on vacation...

- Silver Spring Transit Center: still delayed! At some point, Paul Sarbanes will probably request that his name be removed from this debacle. I'm actually kind of surprised Foulger-Pratt hasn't taken down their banner, which still hangs with pride over the stalled construction site.

- A woman from Silver Spring will compete on Survivor this fall. Personally, I haven't watched Survivor since one of the so-called "prizes" was a Pontiac Aztek*.

- The Silver Spring library is one of a handful of County libraries getting extended hours, though the net difference for us is only one additional hour on Sunday. You know what'd be really nice? Actually building our new library after fifteen years of talking about it. I suppose we should just be grateful that we live in one of the places that has actually increased library funding.

- Some South Silver Springers are none to happy about the proposed high rise apartment complex planned for the corner of Eastern Avenue and Newell Street.

- The Georgian Apartments has been purchased by New York developer Pantzer Properties, which immediately re-named it the horribly-generic-sounding "The Point at Silver Spring". Re-branding older buildings is not unique in Silver Spring, as the Mica Condos were once the Springwood Apartments and the Georgian itself was the Georgian Towers not so long ago. The Georgian memorably once hosted an Ike-Leggett-attended rooftop party featuring PG-rated nyotaimori. (Apropos of nothing, but I love that the Twin Towers Apartments' management company's website describes that building as "enchanting".)

While they're at it, why not go one step further and change the address, too? Then again, if you tamper with a building's street address, you're liable to get some erroneous results with online mapping software. I just noticed that the map on Redfin shows the Homicide House as being a gas station:

(And I am not including this in order to re-ignite the comment section debate about the value of a house next to a gas station, or Silver Spring home prices as a whole...)

*An acceptable vehicle for for Walter White, but not Heisenberg.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round... OVER YOUR CORPSE!

I'm becoming increasingly concerned over the lack of action being taken combat the homicidal buses roaming our streets with impunity. The most recent evidence of this growing threat is this Ride-On bus, which slammed into a SSINO house on Monday. (Video here!)

Last year another Ride On bus attempted to (mercifully?) murder diners at the Glenmont KFC. (Killing the restaurant itself, apparently, as it's still shuttered over a year later.)

Now flashback to 2010, when this rogue Metrobus attempted to scale a hill on Colesville road in a failed assault on a unsuspecting home: 

This area must have the highest per capita bus-on-building violence in the country, yet the no one is doing anything about it. I mean, hasn't anyone seen Maximum Overdrive? The 13 bus passes me nearly every day. The 13 Bus, for God's Sake. It's only a matter of time before it makes its move...

UPDATE: As a commenter pointed out, there was also the case last month where a bus self-immolated in downtown Silver Spring. Perhaps they are now resorting to suicide attacks.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

"Homicide House" Has Its History Erased

The ongoing saga of the Silver Spring's internationally infamous "Homicide House" continues to fascinate me. After being on the market for an extended period of time, the house ultimately sold for just $330K this past February. If one disregards the house's disturbing history, this would have to be considered a good bargain for that neighborhood, as the property was recently assessed for $507K and its "Zestimate" is $459K.

Interestingly, the house was almost immediately back on the market, with an asking price of hundreds of thousands more that for what it was purchased - perhaps in an attempt to flip the property for a quick profit. But how would you expect to a long-unsold property for a significantly higher price when a Google search of the address by a prospective buyer would return thousands of references to the tragic events which have taken place there there over the years? Easy - you whitewash its history by changing the address! Meet 9335 Columbia Blvd., the house formerly known as 9337 Columbia Blvd. Now 9337 simply doesn't exist - like the 13th floor of many highrise buildings. A search of the new address returns nothing more than the home's appearance on a variety of real estate sites.

While this is unarguably a clever marketing ruse, if successful it will likely result in some very upset new owners. While by law sellers are not required to disclose crimes that were committed in a property, inevitably any buyer will eventually learn the history of their new house and when they do they are likely to be distressed - and angry. This is apparently what happened when the late Brian Betts initially learned of the double murder that occurred in his home in 2002.

The seller does appear to be motivated, dropping the price in increments of $10-20K a month since the property was put back on the market. Of course, when you only paid $330K, you're still looking at a healthy profit at the current price (it's now @ $479K).

It will be interesting to see at what price this house eventually sells. The optimal situation will be that it is purchased by an unsuperstitious buyer with full knowledge of the house's history who feels they are getting a lot for their money. It's a decent house and it should have someone living there - having it sit there empty for years is a creepy reminder of its past.